UCONN Health Center-Ambulatory Care Parking Garage
The design-build team charged with creating a five-story, plus slab on grade parking structure on a former surface parking lot on the campus of the University of Connecticut Health Center faced several key challenges. They had to complete the project on a tight schedule to alleviate parking demand, connect the structure to both an existing and an under-construction building, and built it into the side of a hill. To help accomplish these goals, the team specified a precast concrete structural system.
The structure consists of approximately 540,000 square feet of space to handle 1147 vehicles. The design features 1,138 precast concrete components, with about half of that total derived from double tees. It also includes girders, columns, k-walls, shear walls, lite walls, spandrels, wall panels, stairs and slabs.
“We specified precast concrete for its speed, economy, and constructability,” says Greg Plasil, project executive for the Fusco/Clark Joint Venture, which led the team. “We really don’t use cast-in-place concrete for this type of structure around here anymore. Whenever we do a garage, it will be with precast concrete due to the benefits.”
The key challenge was the need for speed, as officials wanted the structure completed quickly to lessen parking demand, especially with the existing surface spaces unusable on the site, where a new Ambulatory Care Center (ACC) also was being constructed. The schedule called for the structure to be completed in only 13 months and actual construction was eight months.
Precast concrete aided that schedule by casting components off-site in controlled factory conditions while site work was completed. That saved considerable time, as building the structure into the side of the hill required the construction of a 50-foot soil-nail wall before foundations could be installed. “We needed to get into the ground fast, and that was complicated by having to build against the hill,” he explains.
By the time that work was completed, the precaster had a backlog of components ready to erect. They were delivered to the site each day by truck to a staging area, from where they were picked and set into place. The structure features a gray-colored finish with reveals through the spandrels that help break up the solid mass of the large building.
During the design process, an add-alt option of building the sixth story was incorporated to provide exclusive parking space for physicians using the various medical buildings. This allowed the structure to rise level with the top of the hill, providing access to the roadway on the hilltop.
An abutment was installed to allow precast concrete double tees to form a bridge that connects the structure to the road. A steel pedestrian bridge was provided at the second level connecting to both an existing medical building and the new ACC.
“The three companies—precaster, steel fabricator, and foundation company—worked very well together to ensure there were no delays or issues,” Plasil says. “Their primary focus was to get the garage completed on schedule.”
Both the parking structure and the ACC were topped out within two weeks of each other, bringing the garage in two weeks ahead of the original schedule. Interior finishes will begin on the ACC in November, beating the harsh winter weather and ensuring the October 2014 occupancy date will be met.
Timeline: Start Precast Erection — May 1, 2013
Complete Precast Erection — August 15, 2013
Structural Precast Elements:
• 595 Double Tees
• 69 Girders
• 43 Columns
• 20 K-Walls
• 28 Shear Walls
• 34 Lite Walls
• 142 Spandrels
• 30 Stairs
• 63 Solid Slabs
• 114 Wall Panels